What to Look for in a Backup Care Program


What to Look for in a Backup Care Program

Many working parents turn to family or friends for help when child care arrangements fall through. However, not every parent has the luxury of someone they can count on for last-minute child care needs. That’s why employer-sponsored backup care offers much-needed support for working families.

For working parents, backup care functions much like a safety net—covering the gaps in child care when normal arrangements fall through. For employers, it’s insurance against the absenteeism, presenteeism, and productivity losses that occur when care emergencies arise.

Backup care also protects against the care-related workday disruptions that cost American businesses more than $13 billion annually in lost productivity. In addition, employers are finding that offering backup care and other care benefits gives them an advantage when it comes to recruiting and retention.

We recently surveyed Care for Business clients and their employees and found that: 

  • 90% of the Backup Care days used in the past 12 months prevented employees from missing a day of work due to lack of care for a loved one
  • Without access to Backup Care, 87% of employees said they would have had to miss work to take care of a loved one
  • 85% of employees reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their Care.com benefits

Employers also reported positive results as a result of offering Care.com benefits to their employees, sharing that:

  • Turnover rates have decreased by 21% on average 
  • Productivity has increased by 34% on average

Backup care comes in many forms. It can be provided in the home or outside the home, from a vetted backup care network or one’s own network, for one day or multiple days. And—best of all—it’s available for children, adults, pets … and even yourself. But, for a backup care program to make a difference in your employees’ lives—and for it to drive productivity—it’s important that it checks the boxes in terms of being equitable, accessible, and diverse enough to meet the needs of the modern workforce.

A best-in-class backup care program is:

1. Flexible

Your program should not be one-size-fits-all. It needs to be able to meet the unique, individual needs of your employees. Employees may want to lean on a provider they’re already familiar with, or look to their employer-sponsored backup care program to give them vetted options. For some it’s the ability to have a qualified, fully vetted caregiver sent right to their home, while for others that might mean a space reserved in a child care center near the office. The best backup care programs give employees the power of choice to use care providers when and where they need them most.  

2. Affordable

To be truly effective, a backup care plan needs to be economical. Even if it’s convenient, employees won’t use a care option that’s too pricey, so payment rules and subsidies should be spelled out clearly. Put yourself in an employee’s shoes: “If I go to work today, will I pay more than what I’ll earn to pay for care for my loved one?” Affordable and subsidized backup care programs ensure they’ll never have to ask that question.

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3. Equitable

Providing care benefits such as backup care help employers create a workplace that is more productive, loyal, and equitable. Care benefits help keep working parents from having to choose between a productive workday or caring for their kids when plans fall through. But backup care is also a helpful solution for the millions of silent adult caregivers in the workforce, as well as pet parents. Currently, 19% of Americans provide unpaid care to an adult. And, as the sandwich generation—those employees “sandwiched” between children and aging relatives—expands, it’s becoming increasingly important for backup care solutions to also provide senior care benefits. A truly equitable backup care program provides coverage when care falls through—for anyone your employees love. 

4. User-Friendly

Your program will only be effective if it’s as easy to use as every other consumer experience your employees have on a day-to-day basis. Booking backup care should be as simple and intuitive as ordering groceries. That’s why it’s important to have a user-friendly program that’s accessible to your employees through multiple communication channels: via web portal, mobile app, and by phone. Technology-based benefits are also more economical and scalable across a global organization. It becomes more feasible to provide equal benefits coverage to employees—from company headquarters to the living room of a remote worker.

5. Scalable

Above all, make sure your backup care program is designed to scale. That means having vetted care providers—with availability (not just an address)—in your employee locations. True benefit equity means supporting employees where they live and work. Work with your providers to understand their network scale and their solution options to fill network gaps in care deserts. If you’re a global employer, work with your backup care partner to understand the social norms and caregiving laws abroad, to understand the best way to support international employees.

Today over 800 employers partner with Care for Business to offer Care Benefits—including Backup Care—to their workforce. Connect with one of our experts today to evaluate options for your company.

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